Donkey Calf Raise: Benefits and How to Do It Correctly

If there’s a thing that runners are passionate about is doing it (obviously). If there’s one thing that runners do not really like is training for strength and conditioning.

There’s no reason why If you’re already running frequently and want to do an exercise routine which you don’t really enjoy as much isn’t an attractive option. However, doing some strengthening exercises is essential to increase your running performance and be more resistant to injuries.

Donkey calf raise is a great starting point. It’s an exercise you can complete anywhere you want – you could complete a set while you’re brushing your teeth, and waiting to let the kettle heat up as well as strong calves are crucial for strong running.

Every step you take while running places a considerable amount of stress on your calves. And typical injuries such as Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis are usually caused by weak calves which cannot withstand the stress.

Gradually increasing your speed as well as strengthening the calves by regular increases are the best options to reduce the likelihood of suffering from the aforementioned ailments.

Hope that has convinced everyone running about the advantages of calf raises. However, it’s not only runners that should be doing these exercises.

Every athlete can benefit from more powerful calves. Gym-goers are likely to recognize that they’re difficult muscles to focus on, which is why including donkey calf raises in your workout routine is essential.

Donkey Calf Raise

In terms of the calf workout, the majority of people do some variant of the standing raise of the calf. The donkey calf raise is done with a bent position. This exercise will elevate your calf workout up a notch, and can assist you in optimizing your lower body training!

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Donkey Calf Raise: Working Muscles

Donkey Calf Raise Working Muscles

Primary Muscle Groups

The donkey calf raises mostly as a way to engage two muscles that comprise the calves, the gastrocnemius, and the soleus. Two heads make up the calf raise. the gastrocnemius is located over the soleus and is the bigger of the two muscles.

Together, the gastrocsoleus complex helps pull the heel up to assist when running, walking, and other actions.

Secondary Muscle Groups

Doing the donkey calf raise secondary stimulates the abs and hamstrings. If you bend your back to begin the calf raise, your muscles the hamstrings are stretched. Furthermore to this, your cross-section abdominis and the abdominis rectus work to stabilize your midsection.

Donkey Calf Raise: Benefits

Donkey Calf Raise Benefits

#1 Gains For Strength

In contrast to standing calf raises donkey calf raise are targeted at the muscles of the calf from an extended position. This can greatly increase the calf muscles’ activation when exercising. If you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or just an individual who is interested in fitness, this workout will definitely help you strengthen your calves.

#2 Size Gains

For the majority of people, developing larger calves is extremely challenging. It is good to know that, compared to an incline calf raise standing donkey calf raises are more effective in activating the gastrocnemius muscle, which is the largest of the two muscles in the calf. To maximize the size of your calves practice a large number of donkey calf raise slow, controlled manner.

#3 Improved Vertical Jump And Speed

The calves are activated significantly when you’re running and doing jumping movements since they are the muscles closest to the ground and aid in enhancing your speed. Their development is vital for increasing your vertical leap as well as your speed for sprinting. Doing donkey calf raises could be a great way in boosting your athletic ability of yours.

Donkey Calf Raise: Instructions


A step plate or platform or another solid object (bench or chair, railing, and so on.) at waist-high.


  • Place the plate or platform about a foot ahead of the waist-high object.
  • Step up onto the edge of the platform/weight, and use the hinge at your waist to bend forward and grasp the elevated object. The back of your body should remain equal to the ground.
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  1. Engage your core and gradually lower your heels toward the floor.
  2. Engage your calves to rise up on your toes. Press your calves with all of your strength in this position, and then stop for a few seconds.
  3. Slowly return to your starting position, and repeat for your desired amount of repetitions.


To maximize the gains you gain from your calf try to do at least 15-25 repetitions over 3- 4 sets in the donkey calf raise.

Donkey Calf Raise: Mistakes

Donkey Calf Raise Mistakes

#1 Completing Partial Reps

Too often I’ve seen weight lifters doing their donkey calf raise “pulsing” upwards and downwards using their heels. The pulsing motion is only an incomplete repetition! Instead, slowly rise to the top of your toes, and then press your calves with a lot of force at the top.

Then, lower your heels to the floor, and then mindfully engage your calves once more for a second full repetition.

#2 Standing Too Upright

Another mistake that is often that is made during the donkey calf raise is standing too high. This can cause stretching of your calves during the exercise which can limit your gains. Make sure to keep your back as close as possible to the ground. Make sure you feel the stretch in your calves before finishing every rep.

Donkey Calf Raise: Variations

#1 Weighted Donkey Calf Raise

You can also add some resistance to the donkey calf raise. Attach a belt of weight around your waist and put to it a suitable level of pressure. After that, you can complete your exercise in the same technique as the bodyweight donkey calf raise.

#2 Donkey Calf Raise Machine

Donkey calf raise can make it easier to complete this workout. Start by putting on an appropriate level of strength. After that, get onto the footplate, pivot at your waist, and place the upper pad onto your lower back.

From there you can contract your calves and elevate your feet. Make sure you squeeze your calves as hard as possible at the top before slowly returning to your starting position. Repeat!

Donkey Calf Raise: Alternatives

If you’ve enjoyed the donkey calf raise consider these alternatives to exercises for your calf to boost your lower body workout:

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#1 Upright Stretcher Lifts

Take a stand with your feet resting close to each other. Lean forward at the waist to lean back and place your hands on the ground. There should be a feeling of stretching within your calves.

Then, tighten your calves until they are lifted onto your toes. Press your calves to the top, then slowly return to the position you started from. Repeat!

#2 Seated Dumbbell Calf Raise

The calf raises that you sit on work the soleus more than the gastrocnemius. Take a seated posture near the top of the chair or bench. Engage your core while keeping the back in a straight position. Put two dumbbells vertically over your knees, and then contract your calves until they rise on your toes.

Press your calves with all your might at the top, then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat!

#3 Calf Squats

Stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your core in place with your body straight and straight back, you can squat until your hips are aligned to your knees.

After that, shift weight onto your heels at the lower end of the squat. Then, move up into your calves. Repeat!


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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